Talking Horses: slick-jumping West Balboa value wager in Challow Hurdle
The Challow Hurdle at Newbury has a fine record of pinpointing future chasing stars, with past winners including Denman, Champ, Taquin Du Seuil and Sunday’s Kempton winner, Bravesmansgame, all going on to land Grade Ones over fences later on in their careers, and Wednesday’s race looks like one of the stronger renewals in recent seasons.
Stage Star has not put a foot wrong in two starts over hurdles and he stopped the clock in a decent time when winning over course and distance in November. Lossiemouth, too, is unbeaten over timber this term after progressing rapidly from an Ascot handicap in October, while Gordon Elliott’s Gringo D’Aubrelle, the only Irish-trained runner in the field, will also attract plenty of support.
At the early prices, however, Dan Skelton’s mare, West Balboa (3.05), has to be the bet at around 7-1. Her jumping was impressively slick on the way to a 17-length win in a strong time at Warwick in November and she gets a handy 7lb allowance from her six opponents.
Newbury 1.25 Heart Of A Lion was let down by his jumping when only third at Huntingdon last time. He has a big chance on the form of his successful chase debut in early November, however, and is likely to have had some serious schooling in recent weeks.
Leopardstown 1.45 Run Wild Fred’s win in the highly competitive Troytown Handicap Chase in November is the strongest form on offer here and he looks overpriced at around 100-30 for the in-form Gordon Elliott stable.
Newbury 2.00 Masters Legacy finished well from a long way back when going down by just a length over track and trip last time. A 3lb rise gives him every chance of going one place better.
Leopardstown 2.20 The admirable Sharjah is very difficult to oppose in his attempt to win this Grade One for the fourth year running.
Newbury 2.35 Crypto was not beaten far on his first start since March in November and normal progress would give him every chance here.
Doncaster 3.20 Zambella was a ready winner at Aintree earlier this month and will take some stopping under a 4lb penalty if she is in the same kind of form.
Newbury 3.35 A highly competitive novice handicap but Fern Hill did nothing wrong on his chasing debut last time and should go well off a 1lb lower mark.